QUARTZ HILL – Carolyn Smith’s potential was apparent during her freshman season last year on Quartz Hill High’s varsity girls’ tennis team. Her emergence as one of the Golden League’s top players has come more quickly than expected. After going from Quartz Hill’s No. 1 doubles team to the No. 3 singles spot, Smith, who relied primarily on her powerful shot as a freshman, has added smarts to her repertoire. Her transformation has produced impressive results. Smith (47-1 overall, 26-1 Golden heading into Tuesday’s match) was undefeated until Oct. 25, when she lost to Highland standout Zahra Ghorbani in Quartz Hill’s 10-8 victory. “We knew that she was working hard to improve her game, but the degree to which she’s improved has been surprising,” Quartz Hill coach Bill Lenaway said. Sophomores Rachel Kubel (Minnesota Twins outfielder/Highland alum Jason Kubel’s younger sister) and Stephanie Lemus won all three of their matches. “You hate to lose, but I’m really proud of those kids,” Highland coach Linda Ruiz said. “They played awesome.” Nice fit: With Quartz Hill’s doubles teams struggling to start the season, Lenaway was looking to shake up his lineup. He found freshman Navolita Ikahihifo on the junior varsity team, and she has been a perfect match for junior Renuka Rudra on the Rebels’ No. 1 doubles team. Ikahihifo’s low and powerful ground strokes fit the doubles game well. Rudra is 46-5 (28-2 Golden) in doubles play, and Ikahihifo is 27-2 (22-2). Playoffs: Quartz Hill (16-1, 10-0) soon turns its focus to individual and team playoffs. The Rebels, who advanced to the Southern Section Div. IV quarterfinals last season and are ranked No. 9 this year, open team playoffs Nov. 10. No. 1 singles player Ashley Litchfield (51-0, 30-0), No. 52 in the USTA Southern California 18-under rankings, is a prohibitive favorite to win the league’s individual tournament Monday at Palmdale. The top two singles players and doubles teams advance to the Southern Section individual tournament later this month. Highland’s Kubel and Lemus and Quartz Hill’s Rudra and Ikahihifo are among the doubles favorites. Gideon Rubin, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Her season highlights included an upset of Ghorbani on Sept. 29, and she also has defeated several other highly regarded opponents, including Valencia’s Michelle Stock. Her rapid progression would have been unlikely but for a more advanced approach. “The big thing is she’s been a lot more consistent and a lot more controlled,” Lenaway said. “Last year she just wanted to be a big hitter and go after everything, but I think she realized she needed to be a smarter player.” Strong showing: Highland’s loss last week to Quartz Hill was arguably the best showing in school history. The narrow defeat included two 7-5 losses. Quartz Hill, which hasn’t lost a league match since the early 1990s, clinched at least a share of its 17th consecutive league title. Ghorbani won two of three of her matches after being swept in the first meeting.
Quartz Hill soph reaching potential